It has been said by many people there are only two kinds of individuals in this world; those who lead and those who follow. Other people say the same thing but put it in words like “there are wolves, and there are sheep.” Regardless if you have heard one of these or not, you probably have heard something along the same lines. What I like to do is simply ask people if they are a leader. I have met people who confidently say yes but have met many more who shyly say “I guess so” or in a embarrassed tone say “I don’t think so.” If you are the former then this blog may not be for you but if you are in one of the other categories then keep reading.
There are about as many definitions for the idea of leadership as there are leaders in this world. Most of them are similar if not almost identical. And if you were to ask every single person who you came into contact with they would most likely all have differing opinions as to what leadership is. For the purpose of this blog I will use a definition I have grown to appreciate because of its simplicity. In my thoughts to be a leader is “to guide by influence”. I also feel it is required of me to note there are a significant number of people who do this for the wrong reasons. To that I would also restate something said to me a while ago and that is that there is a fine line between leadership and manipulation. I believe the line is drawn with intent. I believe that influencing someone to do something out of malice is to manipulate.
Who Is A Leader?
The simple answer to this is everyone. Absolutely everyone is a leader in some way and in some area of their life. The trick to becoming a leader in more areas of your live is to acknowledge and accept your current leadership abilities.
If you want to acknowledge your own leadership abilities you need to look at three areas of your life. Those areas are inside yourself, your personal life, and your professional life.
This one is probably the trickiest for most people. Many of us do not take the time to look inside ourselves and take note of what we are doing. However, if you take a few moments every now and then you will see a wealth of leadership opportunities. I always tell people that your most influential follower is yourself. If you do not live a life you believe in then you are not following yourself wholeheartedly and therefore are not truly following yourself.
Anyway, to find examples of leadership inside yourself examine your actions closely. The fact you are taking the time to read this blog is an example of you leading yourself. Whether you are reading it to simply get my view on the subject or because you are hoping to learn a new trick or two, you are leading yourself. Your desire to read this shows your ability to lead yourself to better things. This is just one simple example but you will find many more when you start looking.
Your Personal Life
This is another difficult area for most people to see leadership but not as difficult as inside yourself. We encounter situations almost daily where we showcase our leadership but most go unnoticed which I consider an absolute shame. The easiest example I can give you in this area is connected to your friends. If you have ever experienced a friend coming to you for advice then you are a leader. Your friends come to you for insight because they trust you. They trust you will not steer them in the wrong direction or suggest they do something which could cause them harm. They know you have their best wishes in mind. Taking care of others and encouraging them in life is leadership.
Your Professional Life
First let me start by saying I do not regard a professional life as only those with jobs that have corner offices or hefty salaries. I believe any form of employment grants someone the right to be considered a professional. This area is the one where most people can easily connect with leadership examples. However, I would caution you to not be downhearted if you do not have a team of people working under you. That is not a requirement to show leadership. If you have ever had a moment where a supervisor specifically gave you an extra task, regardless of how menial, you have shown leadership. That supervisor gave the task to you because he/she was confident in your ability to not only perform the task but do an exceptional job with it.
As you can see you are in fact a leader. You may not readily see examples in each of these areas but I am confident you will with a little more digging. If you find them in one area then they most likely exist in the others as well. I think leadership is an ability we can all develop. I also believe there is no such thing as an end of the road for leadership skills. We can always make improvements in our abilities and adjustments in our style.